French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday called for a "strong Europe-China partnership" following talks with visiting President Xi Jinping, as he seeks to forge a unified European approach to Beijing's growing global clout.
This partnership must be based on "strong multilateralism" and "fair and balanced" trade, Macron told reporters ahead of further talks on Tuesday in Paris with Xi, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and EU Commission Chief Jean-Claude Juncker to explore "points of convergence" between the two trading giants.
In his statement, Xi said China "needs a united and prosperous Europe. "He also called on Europe to adopt "a coherent strategy" in its dealings with his country.
It comes after the Chinese leader concluded a visit to Italy, in which the nation became the first G7 state to sign up to Xi's vast "New Silk Road" infrastructure project that has sparked unease in the US and the European Union.